Larger DDoS attacks adding power to potency

Malware and processing muscle to rent is swelling hacker armouries

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks have severe consequences for their victims, causing considerable operational disruption and undermining trust in the organisation amongst customers, end users and business partners.

They can also inflict sizeable financial losses when a website paralysed by spurious network traffic is unable to process orders or payment transactions. And the clean-up/mitigation costs for the internet service providers aren’t cheap either. Not only will it affect the ability for the company to trade but can damage their brand. Building and maintaining a positive, high profile brand reputation is vital for all successful businesses and can easily be destroyed by a single security incident, as consumers wonder how safe their data is if the company can’t secure their own systems from attack.

Unfortunately, most indications suggest that DDoS payloads (and potency) are on the rise, driven partially by the ready availability of DIY exploit toolkits which allow hackers to rent the requisite malware code and much greater processing power for a few dollars per hour.

Internet security specialist Verisign are one of the foremost cyber security companies that currently track DDoS attack trends in a series of quarterly reports. The company reported a 167% increase in the average DDoS peak attack size between 2015 and 2016, jumping from 6Gbps to 16Gbps over the course of a year.

The largest and highest intensity DDoS attack Verisign observed was a multi-vector attack that peaked at over 125Gbps and around 50Mbps, with hackers sending traffic on a daily basis for almost an entire month. The attack involved DNS Reflection and Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) traffic and TCP SYN and Reset floods peaking at approximately 70Gbps and 50Mbps. [You can read more in the report here]

Worryingly, 49% of all the mitigations Verisign conducted on behalf of its customers during the quarter were against IT services, cloud and SaaS providers, with 32% directed against public sector organisations.

The steady, ongoing migration of enterprise workloads away from on-premise applications and infrastructure and into on-demand, pay as you go cloud services certainly puts the companies supplying them at greater risk from DDoS attacks. But central and local government organisations, as well as those in the education sector, also have much to lose when visitors cannot access the information they need when they need it.

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